BRINGING YOU THE BEST IN ROMANCE FICTION
A Playlist for Jane Austen
by M. M. Genet
It’s the holidays. When I can steal a moment of quiet in between the chaos, I like to curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book. Might I suggest the latest anthology from Meant To Be Press entitled, “Meant to Be Kissed”? It contains two regency, holiday romances that readers are sure to love.
I recently looked up more information about Regency Romance. It’s incredible to me that a time period that only lasted nine years (1811-1820) could have captured the minds and hearts of so many readers. Perhaps boasting one of the best romance writers of all, Jane Austen, has something to do with it.
I often wonder what her life was like. Jane Austen has a plethora of information written about her, but we’ll never really be able to know her personally. One thing I do know, from a musician point of view (I’m also a harpist) I can share with you the music, particularly, the holiday music of her day.
While heading out to sing Christmas carols comes from the Victorian era, many people in the Regency time period had harpsichords and pianos in their homes. My research indicates that the Austen home did, in face have a piano. Everyone in her world would have sung these songs in church, particularly at Christmas Eve services. Hence, I give you the holiday play list of Jane Austen.
2. O Come All Ye Faithful/Adeste Fideles This song was originally written (and would have been sung by Jane) in Latin. Written by John Francis Wade, a Regency period hymn composer, other musicians tried to take credit for his work. The original compositions by Wade were found (and confirmed) by British historians and Wade’s reputation was restored.
3. Bring A Torch Jeanette, Isabella One of my all time favorite Christmas songs to play on the harp. Originally written in French, it was so beautiful that it was translated to English and surely would have been known in the time of Jane Austen.
4. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Written in the Regency time period, this well known Christmas Carol wasn’t published until 1833. The author is unknown. Similar songs were sung as early as the 16thcentury in London taverns but the version we’ve all come to know and love was written down at some point while Jane was writing her novels. If she didn’t know the version that we know today, she would have known one that was very similar. A song for all men (and women), here is my personal favorite version.
While drifting off and imagining myself tucked into the piano or harpsichord next to Mr. Darcy himself, I’m thankful for the literary world Jane created. It’s a wonderful to place in which to escape, even for a short while. As I drive off to the next performance, I take a small piece of that world with me as the music of her time lives on.